Doing good has its rewards for DBL

Good guys may finish last, but do-gooder venture funds are managing to raise commitments during the downturn.

The latest is DBL Investors, which is raising its first independent fund since it spun out of JPMorgan Chase in January 2008. San Francisco-based DBL recently held a $34.3 million second close on a fund called BAEF II, according to a regulatory filing.There is no record of a target for the fund, but investors with the firm had previously discussed wanting to raise a fund as large as $200 million while still under the JPMorgan Chase umbrella. Managing Partner Nancy Pfund did not respond to requests for comment.

The firm gets its name from the acronym for “double bottom line,” a phrase used to distinguish companies that make not just a profit, but also a positive contribution to society. DBL previously managed the Bay Area Equity Fund, a $75 million venture capital fund, managed by JPMorgan Chase. The first fund fulfilled the requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 federal law designed to ensure that banks were not ignoring poor communities in their area.

To date, DBL has raised commitments from Charles Schwab Bank, the Contra Costa County Employee’s Retirement Association, the Golden State Investment Fund and the Catholic Healthcare West Funded Depreciation Fund. It had closed on $16 million at the end of 2008, according to past regulatory filings.

Although JPMorgan Chase employees administered the fund, the bank had invested only $6 million as a limited partner. Other limited partners in the first fund included H&Q Venture Management, the Wells Fargo Community Development Corp., the Contra Costa County Employees Retirement System and 43 other investors.

DBL Investors is run by Managing Partners Pfund and Cynthia Ringo. Additional team members include Partners Seth Miller and Mark Perutz and Fund Manager Carol Wong. Former Managing Director Michael Dorsey did not make the transition from the first fund to DBL.

The firm’s portfolio ranges from companies in cleantech and information technology to health care and consumer products and services.DBL previously backed San Carlos, Calif.-based electric car maker Tesla Motors; biotech startup FivePrime Therapeutics of San Francisco; InSpa Corp., a startup operating day spas in the Pacific Northwest; and retailer Elephant Pharmacy, which filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in February.The fund scored a significant exit in 2006 when it sold PowerLight, a solar panel producer that employed middle-income residents of Berkeley, Calif., to SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR) for $330 million. The fund had invested $5 million in PowerLight’s $15 million Series C in August 2005. —Alexander Haislip